Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture
Verso, 1997 - 240 pages
Slug & Lettuce, Pathetic Life, I Hate Brenda, Dishwasher, Punk and Destroy, Sweet Jesus, Scrambled Eggs, Maximunrocknroll—these are among the thousands of publications which circulate in a subterranean world rarely illuminated by the searchlights of mainstream media commentary. In this multifarious underground, Pynchonesque misfits rant and rave, fans eulogize, hobbyists obsess. Together they form a low-tech publishing network of extraordinary richness and variety. Welcome to the realm of zines.
In this, the first comprehensive study of zine publishing, Stephen Duncombe describes their origins in early-twentieth-century science fiction cults, their more proximate roots in 60s counter-culture and their rapid proliferation in the wake of punk rock. While Notes from Underground pays full due to the political importance of zines as a vital web of popular culture, it also notes the shortcomings of their utopian and escapist outlook in achieving fundamental social change. Duncombe's book raises the larger questionof whether it is possible to rebel culturally within a consumer society that eats up cultural rebellion.
Packed with extracts and illustrations from a wide array of publications, past and present, Notes from Underground is the first book to explore the full range of zine culture and provides a definitive portrait of the contemporary underground in all its splendor and misery.
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